Your 2011 POPPED! Festival, ladies and gentleman! Two days and 20 hours of music in a half-empty arena setting with no daylight. It's kind of like being in a casino, but replace the slot machines with bands and the old people with young people.
What was originally scheduled for FDR Park was relocated due to the rain to Liacouras Center, the home of the Temple Owls basketball team. While many I'm sure were disappointed and agitated, this had to happen. You think of the two stage collapses that happen this summer (at Indiana State Fair for Sugarland and Pukklepop in Belgium), and it just seemed the course of action was to be safe. I was driving down the turnpike at noon, and the rain was massive. There was no way a festival like this could take place in such intense conditions.
The main aspect to the two days that people will remember was the new setting. It was great and silly at the same time. As I commented on my twitter, "Popped! feels like the world's weakest arena rock show or the best high school homecoming dance ever."
The music was loud and bounced all over the place. Every band sounded like an arena rock band. The crowd had plenty of room to roam as you can see in the picture. I was getting a little cabin fever from being inside with no daylight for 14 hours in two days and standing on concrete.
All of the bands made some joke about playing in an area. Brian from Cults screamed "Hello, Madison Square Garden" while Madeline announced, "Are you ready to rock, Philadelphia!" Patrick Stickles dreamed that he would one day play an arena and that there would be raiser that he could walk on like Bono. Dan from Yuck said he felt like he was opening for U2. The best comment came from Kip of Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who was a bit weirded out about the arena setting. He said, "We're Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This is our last song. I'm going to go kill myself."
With the new line-up compacted on one stage, that left a schedule dilemma. First, most of the bands were relegated to 5-6 songs in a 30-minute span. Just when you enjoying yourself, the band was leaving the stage. Second, you had the awkward transitions of styles, Soul master Charles Bradley leading into NJ indie gods Titus Andronicus then going to rap legend Rakim. Third, the rush to get gear on off stage left for some suspect sound mixes. Finally, when bands were playing, crew were getting set-ups ready for the next band off to the side and behind them.
In all, the festival did the best they could under the circumstances. I don't think they could have cut bands out completely, although the stand-ups and DJ Questlove were cut-out and Joy Formidable didn't make it to Philly. I was annoyed that great bands like Elbow, Hold Steady and Budos Bands were relegated to six songs.
Then Saturday's line-up was front loaded with the band sthat I like, then all of sudden it became suburban douchefest 2011. After Rakim did his thing, I was already leaning towards ditching the rest of the night, but wanted to stick it out to just so I can have proof positive that Foster the People suck and maybe see some fun lights for Pretty Lights. Then I was waiting in line for crab fries at the Chickie 'n' Pete's window when I noticed the kids around me and all in the halls of the arena. It felt like Saturday night at the Cherry Hill Mall. We're talking trucker hats, wallet chains, day-glo t-shirts, Beiber hair cuts, fake eyeglasses, lip rings, acne, and they all talked like the grew up in South Central L.A. but are really from suburban Bucks County. I just about had a panic attack, so I got out of there before Kreayshawn made me want to join Kip and kill myself as well.
It was an experience. To sum up he bands, the Shins headlining set was a disappointment -- my fandom of them might be over. Surprisingly, Panda Bear was actually interesting and borderline awesome (and borderline stupid with the smoke machine). Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. made a big mess. Elbow was the best of the two days. Budos, Titus, Cults, Hold Steady, Yuck, POBPAH and Rakim all solid. I could have gone without Company of Thieves and Cage the Elephant.
Here's a sampling of the photos from the weekend. I'll throw up some picture posts in the weeks to come.
BTW, Miller Lite is not a sponsor of this space. If I had time I would Photoshop it out.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Company of Thieves
Cage the Elephant